What is the “firmament” of Gen 1:6?

The firmament is the sky, i.e., the space between the land and sea below, and the clouds and stars above. To understand the notion at work here, remember that we are to imagine a world utterly beclouded, with vague light glimmering through, but lighting nothing in particular. Then, once the dust settles enough, on Day 2—although there might still be massive, impenetrable clouds of water vapor—water oceans might well become visible and distinguishable from the clouds.

Did God not create heaven in Gen 1:1? Then why is this newly-created firmament called “Heaven” in 1:8? And what of the spiritual place where God dwells?

As I said above, in Gen 1:1, “the heaven and the earth” was probably meant as a compound phrase with a singular meaning, a hendiadys, standing for something like “the universe” or “the world.” Moreover, the “heaven” that was created in 1:1 was simply the vaguely-conceived upper regions, perhaps the unseen cloudtops above the proto-earth. As to “Heaven” in the sense of God’s spiritual dwelling-place—that is, assuming that we should assume that God’s dwelling-“place” is indeed spiritual and not located in any physical/spatial relation to the earth—clearly it must already have existed before 1:1. Of Jesus, Paul said, “by him were all things created” (Col. 1:16), and “he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Hence, if it must be said that the Godhead dwelt “somewhere” and “before” the creation—though perhaps this makes dubious sense—then that place existed before God created “the heaven and the earth.” So we are really dealing with two, or perhaps three, concepts of “heaven” in Gen 1.

In reference perhaps especially to Gen 1:6, do any other ancient cosmogonies (creation myths) sufficiently resemble that of Genesis 1 as to be a plausible inspiration of it?

Or might they have a common source, anyway? The short answer is that other contemporaneous ancient cosmogonies—Egyptian, Sumerian, and Assyrian—all have enough and striking elements in common with the Genesis account that it is unlikely that they are utterly independent and unrelated. Just for example, one pagan god is said to plan and then speak certain things into existence. In another, the “Enuma Elish” myth of the ancient Babylonians, following a long and complicated back-story, it is a created god, Marduk, who becomes king of the universe and leader of the divine assembly, by defeating the goddess of salt water, Tiamat, which he divides (as some would say God does in 1:6). And the Egyptian god Atun is said to be the original and supreme god, and to have gotten the creation started. But he is by no means the only god, and there are many very important differences. Probably, there was one original tradition, which the Hebrew account gets most correct, being most sensible and being connected with a tradition deeply imbued with other qualities that compel belief.

Do the limited points of similarity of ancient cosmogonies (and theological elements, such as the “divine council” and speaking things into existence) make that of the Hebrews less credible? Why or why not?

It seems not. No other cosmogony has significant enough similarities to be plausible as a sole or even main origin of the Hebrew cosmogony. All of these texts are hard to date precisely. Finally, we have independent theological reasons to find Genesis 1 plausible, and if God shared that story during some antediluvian or patriarchal ages (not with Moses himself, which is another possible original source), then we might well expect to find multiple pagan versions of the original story, i.e., versions of the Hebrew (Yahwist) narrative twisted by pagan cults, handed down from days gone by. In that case, the similarity with pagan accounts means only that the pagans misrepresented the truth, and that Genesis 1 is adequately reflects the original, faithful source.

What are the “lights in the firmament” of 1:15?

These are, of course, the Sun, Moon, and stars. One commentator speculated that these are not named as such in order to convey that they are mere “lights,” created objects, not gods—since these items in the “host of heaven” were often the objects of worship. Not naming them was a way to reduce these mere objects in dignity.

Isn’t it a problem that Sun and Moon are said to be created (Gen 1:14-17) after the earth (1:1)?

Again, if the narrator of Gen 1 is occupying a position close to the surface of a proto-earth, then at some point, enough of the primordial dust cloud would have settled or burned off that there would be clear periods in which the Sun and Moon became visible, perhaps for the first time. One potential problem here is that the text actually states, “Then God made two great lights” and “God set them in the firmament” (1:16-17); but current theory about the formation of the solar system has it that the Sun ignited before the Earth formed. What is very likely the case, however, if that is so, is that the early Sun and Moon were for a long time invisible from the surface of the proto-Earth, as it was still forming. If so, then the events described as taking place on days 2 and 3 followed the creation of the Sun and Moon, but the Sun and Moon became visible after them.

As to “heaven” in 1:14-17, shouldn’t we say, as the illustrators sometimes show, that God dwells in the clouds or among the stars? Is that not a sufficient sense of “heaven”?

Perhaps early theologians thought so, but we now know they would have been mistaken, because the regions above the clouds—outer space, with its planets and stars—are every bit as “fleshly” as the rest of the material creation. It seems to have been thought that the loftier regions were not like “here below,” so it was possible to think of a spiritual heaven as being simply, “up there.” But Copernicus and even more modern astronomy and space exploration have shown that space is material and not particularly holy. Yet we are specifically told that God is “a spirit” (John 4:24). Visions of God on his throne, and surrounded by adoring angels (e.g., Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, and Revelation 4), are distinctly otherworldly visions and typically interpreted as somewhat clumsy, metaphorical attempts to describe wholly spiritual visions. So any divine dwelling place cannot reside “at” any particular place “in” this material world.

What does it mean to say the Sun and Moon “rule over the day and over the night” (Gen 1:18)?

This does not suggest the author indulged in a pagan sort of personalization of these objects, or that he was tipping his hat toward Egyptian and other mythology. Of course the author of Genesis 1 did not mean to avow Sun and Moon gods (which, again, is perhaps one reason they were not named as such). The language of Genesis is poetic, though not poetry. Doubtless, the pagan traditions ultimately suggested the metaphor of the Sun “ruling” the day, just in the sense that it was the most prominent universal presence in daytime; but this hardly meant that the author of Genesis 1 took the metaphor to be understood literal. That language even as early in the Bible as this first chapter could be metaphorical is obvious. This is said to be “divided” by God from that; there are six “days” which are probably metaphorical; Sun and Moon are “great lights”; animals are enjoined to be “fruitful”; man is said to have “dominion,” as if royalty; etc.

How can we best reconcile the notion that birds (Gen 1:20) were created before land animals (1:24)?

“Cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth” (Gen 1:24) come only after birds (1:20), which evolutionary history says is wrong. One way to approach this problem is to point out that reptile or amphibian would be an instance of a “living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly.” This is, after all, true, according to evolutionary theory. In other words, in the Mesozoic (dinosaur) era, even as fish and birds were evolving, so were the earliest, creeping land animals, and even if indeed they spent millions of years on land, it was in that earlier era that they came out of the sea. It was only in a later era, the Cenozoic, when mammals appeared, i.e., the sorts of animals the author doubtless had in mind when listing “cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth.” And it is rather strikingly apropos, I think, that the last living creature to appear was man. Besides all that, this is not a scientific treatise but a brief, suggestive account of the orderly way in which God created things; it is probably not a requirement that such an account match perfectly to the order in which things were actually created, particularly if the “days” are used as conceptual markers used for exposition rather than six consecutive 24-hour periods.

Why are various categories of animals, and then man, encouraged to “be fruitful, and multiply” (Gen 1:22, and in the case of man, at 1:28)?

What is the significance of this injunction? Reproducing and flourishing as a group seems to be both specially valued by God and is presented as a blessing (“God blessed them, saying”; 1:22). Othernatural processes are not similarly blessed; probably, there is some special meaning behind an emphasis on reproduction, particularly because it is repeated several times as a blessing, promise, or injunction (especially at Genesis 9:7, after the Flood: “be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein”). In short, life as such is specially prized by God: sacrificing the life of the most valuable animals atoned for sin; the most serious sins concerned unjust killing as well as improper reproduction; and the very most horrible pagan heresies involved sacrificing human life, especially a child’s life. Accordingly, the greatest reward of the Hebrews was to “multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore.” (Gen 22:17) Moreover, one of the saddest and desperate conditions of a young woman in the Bible was the inability to bear children. Life, in the Bible, is repeatedly shown to be among the greatest of blessings and holiest of things we can value.

What does Gen 1:26 mean with the claim that man is made “in the image of God”?

This doctrine is theologically deep and consequential, and is made the basis of all sorts of important concepts regarding the nature of man, theological ethics, the relationship between man and God, etc.—as well as the basis of heresies. But, I will keep this answer brief. The Hebrew words suggest we are made in God’s “image” or form, “after our likeness” or similitude or model. We are in God’s likeness—the imago dei—but how? John (4:24) writes that “God is a Spirit” or, as more recent translations have it, “God is spirit.” The Spirit of God is mentioned as early as Gen 1:2 in the Bible, and in many other places thereafter. Hence it seems likely that the claim that we are made in the image or form of God is to say that our spirits, or souls, or minds, or characters were made in some fashion like God’s. It is not hard to find ways in which this might be true: God is represented as having a free will, with the ability to make plans and form purposes, as we do; of having a mind, thoughts, and reasons, as we do; and of having assorted emotions, including love and anger, as we do. Moreover, in the same sentence, God says he would give man dominion over other living beings; so a common suggestion is that we resemble God in that we have this “dominion,” although in a much narrower domain. Finally, we are also supposed to be like God in that we are can be evaluated morally, as righteous or sinful. Of course, since God is perfectly righteous, it follows that in Adam’s fall, man’s nature became less like God’s, insofar as man became sinful; so also, in our ultimate redemption and rebirth, according to the New Testament, the imago dei in us will be more fully restored.

Could the Gen 1:26 “image of God” be a physical, rather than spiritual, image?

In other words, could God have a physical body which ours resembles? Perhaps, perhaps not, although this might have been the first thing that the mere words would have brought to mind to the original reader. After all, God is portrayed in the Pentateuch as having an appearance, e.g., a face, which it is deadly for a man to see, and which Moses was forbidden to see, though he could see God’s back. Moreover, we are told over and over that God appeared in various theophanies, i.e., bodily or physical forms, such as Abraham’s visitor, Jacob’s wrestling partner, the burning bush, and the shekhina, i.e., the physically appearing “glory” or presence of God in and about the tabernacle. Most importantly, there is God’s appearance in the form of Jesus. But as God is primarily spirit, the way in which we are in his image is likely also spiritual. It is possible that our “new creation” bodies will be like the perfect, glorified body of the risen Christ, but that is not how we are, now, in the image of God. But one thing we can certainly infer from the variety of theophanies: God does not have any one physical manifestation, hence cannot be identified with any of them. Hence our bodies could at best resemble one of his theophanies, not all of them.

Is original man (Gen 1:29) said to be vegetarian?

It might seem so, but the matter is not altogether clear. Although the God does not specifically forbid the eating of meat, plants and their fruit are the only food that is clearly mentioned before Abel sacrificed the firstlings of his flock (Gen 4:4). As Abel seemed to be a meat-eater; he raised sheep and set aside the fat for God. But this is puzzling, because if eating meat became acceptable immediately after the Fall, God would have said so in Gen 1:29, and a bit later when he describes “the herb of the field” (Gen 3:18) that he would henceforth eat. Cain’s descendant Jabal is called father of “such as have cattle.” (Gen 4:20) Noah is said to taken seven (probably, seven pair) of the various animals described as “clean” (Gen 7:2); the food laws (later articulated in Leviticus) clarify that clean animals were those acceptable to eat. Still, God first explicitly describes the eating of meat to Noah, generations later, when he says, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you” (Gen 9:3). See below for discussion of that. Finally, consider carefully that God mentions man’s “dominion over” the animal world twice (1:26, 1:28), and that would have been thought to include eating animals; animal meat would have been a blessing. So it is hard to say and I am inclined to think early man did eat animals, at least after the Fall.

Are animals originally said to be herbivorous (Gen 1:30)?

It seems so. The fact that animals are, of course, carnivorous, you would think it would bear specifically mentioning that the first animals were not so, if that were the point of saying they ate plants. But perhaps saying only that they ate plans was commonly understood, at the time, to mean that animals at only plants (this is a logical fallacy, but it could be an understood implication). Besides, key texts in Rom. 8:18-25 as well as Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25 suggest that on the recreated New Earth, animals will live in peace (as herbivores). So it seems creation at first was absolutely free of death and hence no animals were eaten, and that in the new creation, wiped clean of all sin, there will again be no death, not even of animals. If this were the case, then perhaps the original condition of the creation was equally idyllic. In any case, the difficulty here is that there is there is no scientific evidence that vicious carnivorous predators like lions and eagles ever ate plants; they have sharp teeth (or beaks) and claws (or talons) in order to capture and hold their prey. Why should animals be “punished” by changing their diet in this way as a response by God to man’s sin?

So were animals immortal, like man, before the Fall?

Perhaps, but this seems doubtful. For one thing, they did not eat of the Tree of Life, which seems to be the best explanation of why Adam was said to be offered to live forever. Death would come from Adam only after eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, promised at Gen 2:17: “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” But it does not say that animals did not die previous to this, and at no point does any Bible verse explicitly link Adam’s sin with the introduction of animal death. Some point to Rom. 5:12 as indicating that Adam’s sin introduced death to the animal world: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin”. But the same sentence concludes: “and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” It says nothing specifically about animals, and “death by sin” is too vague to hang a whole doctrine upon: obviously, it could mean only “death of man by sin,” since that is the context. The same problem afflicts 1 Cor. 15:22-23: the remark “in Adam all die” leaves “all” with a vague domain of application: I would be inclined to think it means “all men,” not “all living beings.” After all, later in that same chapter’s argument, the redemption for that original sin is said to make resurrection possible, and that certainly does not include the resurrection of animals.

If “everything” God had made was “very good” (Gen 1:31) was it perfect?

It depends on what you mean by “perfect.” After all, the serpent was in the Garden, ready to tempt Adam and Eve, and even if they had not yet sinned, they possessed both the freedom and the willfulness that enabled the Fall. More to the point, Adam and Eve were like innocent children, and innocent children, however morally pure and indeed holy they might be, are not fully formed and are hence complete in that (quite distinct) sense. In other words, there are at least two senses of the word “perfect”: (a) beyond moral reproach and (b) incapable of any sort of improvement. God’s initial creations were perfect in the sense of (a), but not (b); after all, each day of creation represents an improvement over the last. This is not to say that it was preferable that Adam and Eve lost their innocence and became more sophisticated. Indeed, God is often contemptuous and wrathful toward man’s pretensions to wisdom and power (as in God’s reaction to the Tower of Babel in Gen 11:1-9). But it is a matter for God himself, and perhaps for debate in philosophical theology, whether in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21-22) we will be in a “more perfect” state, being far more mature than Adam, but also having sinned and having had our sins wiped clean by Jesus.

What are we to make of the repeated refrain, “And the evening and the morning were the [ordinal number] day” (as at Gen 1:5)?

I propose to gloss the sentence this way: “After an evening, and with the dawning of the next morning, the first day ended.” In the text, these sentences come after the descriptions of each day’s creation activities, implying that the evening and the dawn came after those activities. If this sentence were, instead, a recapitulation of the whole day—a day lasting from “morning” until “evening”—then it is hard to know why the word “evening” (עֶ֥רֶב, ereb) always occurs before “morning” (בֹ֖קֶר, boqer). It seems that, contrary to the usual Hebrew day which begins at sundown, each 24-hour day begins at dawn and ends with the conclusion of the following night.

How long is a “day” (as at Gen 1:5)?

In this text, a “day” (י֔וֹם or yowm) need not mean a standard 24-hour period, however much some insist on this. Elsewhere in the Bible itself we are told, “a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past” (Psalm 90:4), a verse Peter seems to have recalled when he wrote, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (1 Pet. 3:8) Moreover, the seven “days” are recounted on a divine scale, as for most of the time, God is the only actor. It is also a strong and perfectly acceptable argument to point out that, on the most plausible account of the meaning of the events described—an account that attempts to be squared with a respectful, good-faith, scientific observation of the God-made creation before us—the events would quite naturally (but also divinely) extend over billions of years. Given this, the purposes of the sentences seems clear enough: they divide up and order the events using a metaphor.

How many things here is God said to “divide” (as at Gen 1:4), and so, what might its significance be?

God is said to divide light from darkness (Gen 1:4); the waters under the sky (the sea) from those above (the clouds, I think; 1:7); day from the night (1:14); light from darkness again (1:18), but on my interpretation this really is the same insofar as it is the sun’s light, whether obscured by the proto-earth’s clouds or not, that performs this function. Moreover, although the text does not explicitly say so, the land is clearly “divided” from the sea (1:9). These “divisions” seem to distinguish the main components of the visible universe, which was at first “without form.” Hence with these actions God gives form to the world.

What is the purpose and significance of God’s declaration, as at Gen 1:4, that the things he has created are “good”?

This is a good illustration of the Bible’s understatement and tendency to require the reader to pay close attention in order to get the full message. The message here is not merely that God approves of his own creation, but that creation was, at first, good; but this changes, as we will see, with the Fall of Man in Gen 3. It is this change that makes the emphasis apropros.

Is there not a fair bit of repetition of verbal formulas in the six “days” of creation?

Indeed there is. As one can see in Gen 1:3-5, with “And God said…and there was…,” then “God saw…” and “it was good”; and all is followed by “the evening and the morning were the nth day”. Commentators make much of this repetition: there is the report that God said something, then there is the command (or “divine fiat”) itself, then a report of the action being done (the “fulfillment formula”), then God names the thing created, judges it good (the “approval formula”), and finally, the day comes to a close.

What is the “Spirit of God” and why is it said to move upon “the face of the waters” in Gen 1:2?

Here we are invited to picture the proto-earth as being one giant ocean, as a 2020 study theorizes actually happened in the proto-earth. It is precisely the Spirit of God that, in other places in the Bible, is said to be the original creator and mover of the universe. It helps to bear in mind that the word for “Spirit” here, רוּחַ or ruach, also means “breath or wind,” and that it is one of the products of “breath”—the Word of God—that is elsewhere said (and demonstrated in Gen 1) to be particularly creative. As Psalm 33:6 puts it, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath [ruach] of his mouth.” The notion that some agent of the Godhead was present to initially move things about is also consistent with theology going back to ancient times, not just in Aristotle’s Prime Mover argument but also on the view that divine intervention is always needed to sustain the universe in its existence and activity. So it is particularly apropos that God’s presence and activity are noted precisely in the first moments of the chaotic proto-universe.

What is the “light” that God created on the first day (Gen 1:3), particularly if not the Sun (created on the fourth day)?

The way to make this narrative cohere best both with common sense and with science is to envision the events of the narrative unfolding from a point of view on the very early proto-earth, making use of human-type perceptual equipment, not from way out in space or from some abstract, scientific point of view. Hence, we can imagine the light from the sun shining through the proto-earth’s gas cloud, there would be periods of light and periods of dark, as the gas blob began to rotate (Gen 1:5). Atmospheric conditions at some early point might well be such that there were no distinctive clouds visible from the planet surface, and so neither “firmament” nor solid ground or ocean, but merely a massive, slightly opaque dust cloud. So in fact the “light” might have been the Sun, but enshrouded by clouds of as yet unthinned and un-”divided”, formless dust and ice. Another possibility, that strikes me as being a little too anachronistic, is the notion that this is the light following the Big Bang. This general theory is explored in more detail below.

In Gen 1:2, what does “without form, and void” mean? How about “the deep” and the primordial “waters” and their “face”?

It seems what was initially created by God was something like “raw stuff,” Aristotelian matter without form; it was essentially chaotic, without order. It had to be given some shape or nature by God, and it did not originally have any such shape or nature. Hence, to say that the earth was “without form, and void” is to say that it was an amorphous, chaotic blob. That nicely coheres with scientific theories about the formation of the primordial earth out of a disc of dust and gas, floating formlessly in space. The early earth was deep, dark, wet (at least, full of frozen water molecules), chaotic, impenetrable mass of earth and (ice) water. That is what is meant by a “heaven and earth” that is nonetheless “without form, and void.” Then certainly “the deep” and “the waters” both might be understood as descriptions of such a chaotic and wet mass.

What word is used for “create” in Gen 1:1 and why does it matter?

TThe word in Gen 1:1 for “create,” בָּרָ֣א or bara, is used here, while in other contexts, a word meaning “made,” עָשָׂה or asah, is used. The distinction appears to be that between creating out of nothing and assembling out of pre-existing parts—between originating and transforming. Basically, God is said to bara things out of nothing, while he asah them by assembling them from pre-existing things.

So did God create the universe ex nihilo in Gen 1:1, according to the Bible? What reason is there to think so?

Yes, although perhaps the text does not say so in a way that would satisfy a critical philosopher on the point. The argument, briefly stated, is theological: the first sentence of the Bible is, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Is there anything other than the heaven and the earth? The author doubtless did not think so; and if so, then this statement amounts to saying that God created everything there was to create. Peter in Acts 4:24 is perhaps more explicit on this point: “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that is in them”. Even more pointed is a verse that Grudem rightly makes much of in this connection: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Heb. 11:3) Unless the author here is saying—as he very probably is not—that visible things are made out of invisible things, this implies that all visible things are made ex nihilo.

Is Gen 1:1 to be translated as part of an adverbial phrase or as an independent main clause?

In other words, is it “God created” or is it “When God created, …” with either Gen 1:2 or 1:3 the consequent of “when”? In the first case, God created a primordial universe, then structured and filled it; in the second case, God created a complete universe, and thereafter that previously good universe was reduced to chaos—as if there were a “gap” between 1:1 and 1:2. This is a common theory, but, without getting into the tedious details, there is nothing in the text to support it. For one thing, “when” does not appear in the text. Moreover, the notion that God would begin with an unshaped, empty universe makes excellent sense considering that the rest of Genesis 1, he is shaping and filling the universe.

God is said to create the heaven and the earth in Gen 1:1, and yet he creates “heaven” in 1:6-8 and “dry land” or earth in 1:9-10. Is this a contradiction?

No. There are various ways of explaining this, but the way that makes most sense to me is that what is created is neither heaven in the sense of the sky (which does not appear until the second day, Gen 1:6) nor earth in the sense of dry land (which does not appear until the third day, 1:9). So what is it? We are told its features, or rather, its lack of features: it is “without form, and void,” it is described as “the deep,” which has “waters” that are evidently not gathered-together “seas” (such seas do not appear, with the dry land, until the third day, 1:10). Indeed, the very fact that “waters” need to be separated from “waters” in order to make a “firmament” or expanse, which is only then (second day, 1:8) to be called “heaven” or “sky,” means that the initial “heaven and earth” are very strange and primordial indeed. Hence, to say that God created “the heaven and the earth” is simply to say that God created the universe.It is possible that we should interpret “heaven” here to mean the spiritual dwelling-place of God, but presumably that existed well before the material universe or “earth” in that sense (this is discussed more below).

What did God create first, precisely (Gen 1:1)?

As the text says, he created “the heaven and the earth.” This is a phrase that Sailhamer calls a hendiadys—a unitary concept formed out of two words conjoined with “and”—to mean the entire universe. This does not mean that he first created everything in all its glory and detail, because in the very next sentence, he says the earth that he just created was “without form, and void.” Also, see the next question.

Why is the plural form of the Hebrew word elohim, employed for “God” (Gen 1:1)?

Why is אֱלֹהִ֔ים, or elohim, used for a singular God in Gen 1:1 and so many places later? Indeed, and not only that, why is a pluralized word meaning “in our image” (בְּצַלְמֵ֖נו, betzalmenu) used (1:26), if “the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut 6:4)? A common and traditional explanation is theological: this is because the Holy Spirit and Jesus were part of the Godhead, and it was, apparently, acceptable to refer to the Godhead using the plural. While true enough, it does not seem this is why the plural was used here, because the author of this text presumably did not believe in a trinitarian Godhead and hence not intend to refer to one. But perhaps the author was inspired to use the plural, for reasons he himself did not quite understand. Another traditional explanation, however, is possible: this was what is called in Hebrew grammar the emphatic plural or the plural of majesty.By using the plural form (for the noun) with singular verb forms, the author conveys particular respect or emphasis. So this was not any old god; it was God.

What is the function of Genesis 1?

There is, as one commentator pointed out, a polemic at work in Genesis 1. This polemic does not aim to undermine modern science, of course—but instead ancient pagan religions. Genesis stands against ancient religions that taught that different gods were responsible for different pieces of the creation, that some were champions of chaos and evil, that matter pre-existed the gods, that the gods were limited, had foibles, and were even mortal. Only one divine personage matters here, and it is not the highest god of some pantheon. It is the god with a capital “g,” God himself, El Shaddai, God Almighty—named Lord, or Yahweh, i.e., he whose essence is to exist, and whose existence is sovereign. The text, qua polemic, replaced pantheons of capricious and deeply flawed gods with a single all-powerful creator god.